In this ranking, we profile the top 10 online PhDs in accounting.
Online doctoral programs are limited, and even fewer programs exist for individuals seeking accounting degrees. However, through careful research, we found top PhD in accounting online programs that are both accredited and recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. We researched both online PhD in accounting programs and online DBA programs that covered accounting topics or offered specializations in this niche business field. Our methodology is explained below.
Top 10 Online PhD in Accounting Methodology
We looked at approximately 30 colleges and universities listed by the Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered a PhD in accounting degree or closely related discipline online, such as a doctorate in business administration with accounting courses or specializations. We narrowed our original pool of schools to find the top 10 PhD in accounting that are offered online by applying the following criteria: accreditation with a reputable governing agency, at least one option to complete an online doctoral or PhD in accounting or closely related discipline, and program or institution rankings with at least one major publication like U.S. News and World Report. We then listed the top 10 PhD in accounting degrees offered online according to raw affordability.
Below are the results of our top 10 online PhD in accounting programs.
Note: This ranking/article was originally published in July 2019 and was last updated in June 2022. The 2022 tuition updates may affect the ranking order, but the list has not been re-ordered.
#10 – California Southern University
Online Doctor of Business Administration
California Southern University offers an alternative to the online PhD in accounting. While still available online, the Doctor of Business Administration program is ideally designed for professionals with MBAs and a drive to pursue scholarly research and study at the doctoral level. First-year courses cover topics like:
- advanced measurement and statistics in business
- ethnography of corporate culture
- management finance and control
- organizational development and design
Several concentration areas are also offered so that students may delve deeper into an area of interest. While there is no specific accounting concentration offered, the financial management concentration covers topics that might appeal to those interested in accounting. California Southern is accredited and recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $32,700 (4-year cost)
#9 – Northcentral University
Online PhD in Advanced Accounting
San Diego, California
Northcentral University has one of the rare PhD in accounting programs offered online. Students earn their PhD accounting specialization 100% online by working with NCU professors to understand how to synthesize accounting data. Graduates of this program often seek leadership positions in accounting, auditing, or academia. Sixty credit hours are required, and 20 courses must be completed. The program takes approximately 45 months to complete. Northcentral has received accreditation and rankings from major publications. The rankings from U.S. News and World Report include institutional rankings and online program rankings. Several of the school’s online graduate programs have received top 200 and top 300 rankings.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,917
#8 – Creighton University
Online Doctor of Business Administration in Accounting
The research-oriented online Doctor of Business Administration at Creighton University is one alternative to a doctorate in accounting. DBA programs are offered online far more than PhD programs are. Creighton’s online DBA offers:
- AACSB accreditation
- research-active faculty
- specialization options in accounting
Admission to the program is highly selective, and applicants must have professional managerial experience working in business, accounting, or closely related fields. In addition to work history, admission requires:
- official transcripts
- two letters of recommendation
- evidence of competency in statistics and quantitative reasoning
Creighton is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national university. In fact, the most recent edition of Best Colleges ranks Creighton #104 among the best national universities.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,096
#7 – George Fox University
Online Doctor of Business Administration-Accounting
One alternative to PhD program is the online DBA in accounting offered by George Fox University. Courses are taught by George Fox University’s experienced faculty and cover a wide range of accounting topics. These courses include advanced applications of ethical reasoning and compliance in accounting, advanced topics in accounting, and seminars in accounting. George Fox is consistently ranked among the top Christian colleges in the nation by Forbes and U.S. News and World Report. In the most recent edition of Best Colleges, U.S. News ranks George Fox #246 in best national universities and #80 in top performers on social mobility. Several of the school’s graduate programs have also received recognition. We rank George Fox #7 for online accounting DBA or PhD programs due to its affordability.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,293
#6 – South University
Online Doctor of Business Administration
While researching online accounting programs, we determined the online DBA at South University meets the criteria of this ranking. The online DBA at South equips students to teach college business courses or serve as leaders or consultants in business. Initial topics covered in the online courses include:
- ethics methods and statistics
- group and team behavior
- organizational development and change
- research methods and statistics
The flexible online learning pathway allows students to earn their DBA in 22 months, making it one of the fastest degree programs on our list. For those interested in accounting, courses in the discipline may be taken, though there is currently no accounting specialization. South University is recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,320
#5 – Atlantic International University
Online Doctor of Accounting
Atlantic International University offers a Doctor of Accounting program designed for those researching PhD in accounting online programs. The distance-learning program is one of the few online doctoral degrees in accounting that is accredited and recognized by governing agencies. Core courses explore topics in accounting like accounting concepts and empirical methodology, accounting global economy, corporate financial reporting, management accounting and strategy, managerial incentives and corporate governance, and regulations research. A doctoral dissertation project and proposal are required as part of the program. As indicated above, AIU is accredited by the Accreditation Service for International Schools, Colleges, and Universities (ASIC) and recognized with CHEA. Affordable accounting doctoral offerings at AIU earn it a spot on our list of online PhD in accounting programs.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,000
#4 – Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University’s online PhD in accounting type of programs include the DBA, which is available online. In this bridge DBA, students gain skills and research in areas such as accounting, finance, marketing, and statistics. In fact, the specialization in management offers classes specific to accounting. Course topics include accounting practices, applied business probability and statistics, finance principles, and marketing management. GCU ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. The most recent publication of Best Colleges lists Grand Canyon University #293-#381 in best national universities and #42 in top performers on social mobility.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,583
#3 – Trevecca Nazarene University
Trevecca Nazarene University’s alternative to the online PhD in accounting is the online DBA. This program is customizable with three tracks of study based on career goals. For those interested in accounting, the enterprise leading and managing specialization develops enterprise-level leaders who work in complex entrepreneurial settings. Several accounting courses are also offered and cover topics like current topics in accounting and finance, introduction to applied business research design, and managing complex accounting operations. Trevecca Nazarene ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 293rd to 381st best national university in the country. In addition to the best national institution ranking, the school ranks #147 in top performers on social mobility.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,585
#2 – Liberty University
Online DBA in Accounting
Liberty University offers an alternative degree to the PhD in accounting online. The online DBA at Liberty offers a variety of specializations, including accounting. Specializations are designed to help students tailor their degree toward areas of interest or to meet career goals. Liberty’s online DBA offers classes delivered exclusively online. Accounting courses explore topics such as accounting ethics, auditing, financial accounting theory, and tax research and jurisprudence. Potential career options for students earning this degree and specialization include accounting executive, auditor, budget supervisor, certified management accountant, and certified public accountant. In addition to being an accredited institution, Liberty ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. These rankings include #293-#381 in best national universities and #335 in top performers on social mobility.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,360
#1 – Trident University International
Trident University International offers an online DBA for those interested in PhD in accounting online programs. The DBA is designed for business professionals who aspire to advance in executive and consulting careers in both public and private organizations. Students take 36-48 semester credit hours of core courses that cover a variety of advanced business topics. Students gain skills and competencies in business analytics, accounting, data-driven problem-solving, and decision-making. Admission requirements to the Trident DBA include a conferred master’s degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.0. If you have not earned a master’s degree, GRE or GMAT scores are required. Also, for the DBA program, a minimum of five years of professional work experience in business is required. Trident is accredited and recognized by U.S. News and World Report and listed as an unranked national university. Trident offers the most affordable online PhD in accounting or closely related program on our list.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,600
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with a PhD in accounting online degree?
With an online doctoral degree in accounting, you establish yourself as an expert in the field. A doctoral, such as the PhD in accounting online degree, is the most advanced degree in the discipline. By establishing yourself as an expert, you open doors to leadership roles and teaching. Not only are you qualified for the highest leadership positions, but may qualify to teach at the college level. Most academic institutions of higher learning require a PhD in accounting for professorships.
Outside of academia, qualified applicants can secure employment as accountants and auditors. The primary role of an accountant or auditor is to prepare and examine financial records for an organization or business.
Below are several types of accountant positions that may be pursued with accounting expertise:
Government accountants: The role of a government accountant is to examine records of government agencies, carry out auditing activities, and enforce adherence to government regulations and taxation.
External auditors: External auditors are employed by an outside organization, different from the one they are auditing. Their job is to review financial statements for errors and prepare reports with their findings.
Internal auditors: While the role of an internal auditor is similar to an external auditor, the difference is who they work for. Internal auditors work within an organization to ensure standards are being met. Internal auditors are not subject to regulation by governing agencies.
What is the job outlook for individuals with a PhD in accounting online degree?
According to the United States Department of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow six percent through 2028. This growth rate is about as fast as the average for all occupations and projected due to various reasons.
First, globalization is expected to impact the economy. As a result, a complex tax and regulatory environment will prompt employers to hire internal auditors and accountants. Employment growth is directly correlated with the overall health of the economy. When the economy grows, accounting specialists will be needed to prepare and examine financial records and documentation. This means hiring more experts in the field of accounting.
Another impact on employment growth for accountants is the anticipated technological change over the next decade. As platforms, such as cloud computing and automation, develop and change, accounting tasks will also shift. Technological automation will not negatively impact accounting roles, but will change the scope of the job. We will likely always need accountants, but experts in the field will be more in demand than those with less advanced skillsets. This means individuals with online PhD in accounting degrees or online DBAs with accounting specializations should fare well in the marketplace.
What is the earnings potential for individuals with a PhD in accounting online degree?
The earnings potential for accountants and auditors varies by industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual wage for accountants and auditors, as of September 4, 2019, is $70,500. While the lowest ten percent of auditors and accountants earned less than $43,650, the highest ten percent earned over $122,840.
PayScale, a global compensation research organization that compiles salary data, reported the average accountant salary as $50,901 (September 2019). Certified public accountants (CPAs) earned a reported $65,397 and accounting managers earned $70,617 on average. PayScale also reports an increase in earnings based on the number of years of experience. As accountants gain experience, earnings increase.
Also, the type of industry an accountant works indirectly impacts earnings. BLS reported the top four industries for accountants as follows:
Individuals working as accountants or auditors in finance and insurance earned a median annual wage of $74,690. Management companies and enterprises paid their accountants an average of $73,180. The next highest-paid industry included accountant, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services. This industry-type paid accountants an average of $70,640 per year. Government agencies employing accountants reported compensation of $68,420.
Most accountants work full-time and over forty hours per week. Longer hours are often seen during different times of the year, such as tax season or end of the budget year.
What are the admission requirements for PhD in accounting online programs?
As with all DBA or PhD in accounting online programs, admission requirements vary, Top tier colleges and universities ask for high undergraduate and graduate GPAs, regionally accredited master’s degrees (such as the MBA), and competitive graduate test scores (GRE or GMAT).
The following are the most commonly asked for admission requirements for DBA or PhD in accounting online programs:
Master’s degree: While not all programs require a master’s degree in accounting, a master’s may be needed for admission. The master’s degree shows an applicant is ready for the rigor of DBA and PhD in accounting online programs require.
Competitive GPAs: Undergraduate and graduate GPAs are important. Most programs want to see GPAs of 3.0 at minimum.
Official transcripts: All online DBA or PhD in accounting online programs require official transcripts from graduate and undergraduate coursework and study.
Letters of recommendation: Two to three letters of recommendation are often required for doctoral programs. Letters should attest to research and academic interest.
Test scores: Most online PhD in accounting programs as for GRE or GMAT test scores received within the last five years. Minimum scores may be required.
Work history: While not all programs ask for work history, competitive schools like to see applicants with anywhere between two and five years of relevant professional experience.
How long does it take to earn a PhD in accounting online degree?
PhD in accounting online programs vary in length. The typical PhD takes seven years to earn. However, by earning an online PhD or DBA in accounting, less time may be required. In fact, many of the programs on our list require the completion of 54 to 60 credits. PhD programs typically take longer than DBA programs, but both require about the same amount of credits.
There are several ways to shorten the length of time it takes to earn a PhD in accounting online degree. The first is degree selection. By choosing an alternative to the PhD, such as the online DBA in accounting, less time may be spent in class. Online DBA programs take three to five years to complete. With an earned MBA, this time may be shorter.
Enrollment status is also a factor in determining how long it takes to earn either a PhD in accounting online degree or an online DBA. If you have the liberty of enrolling full-time, doing so will shorten the degree completion time. However, more classes mean less time allowed for outside responsibilities, such as work and family. While part-time enrollment is ideal for working students, the time it takes to complete your doctoral degree is generally longer. It is important to evaluate your academic needs, the pros and cons of full-time enrollment, and your time when determining which program works for you.
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